The newest solid-state drives are just starting to hit retail. But would you buy one?
Solid-state drives are attractive because they're generally faster than hard-disk drives, particularly at reading data--generally something PC users spend most of their time doing.
But price is still an obstacle, especially to the frugal consumer.
OCZ Vertex SSD drives start at $129 for a 30GB SSD. Other capacities include a 120GB drive for $469 and a 250GB SSD for $869. Though $869 may seem pricey compared to a 7200RPM 250GB hard-disk drive that can retail for well under $100, it's relatively cheap for a large-capacity SSD. In the past, SanDisk had sold a 256GB drive through resellers that was priced, almost incredibly, at more than $15,000. Axiom had been selling 256GB solid-state drives priced above $6,000.
OCZ says the Vertex Series of SSDs have a 1.5 million-hour mean time before failure (MTBF), "ensuring peace of mind over the long term." Solid-state drives, since their inception, have been plagued by doubts about write durability. SSD manufacturers such as Intel, Micron Technology, and Samsung say long-term durability is no longer an issue.
The OCZ drives are backed by a two-year warranty.
Intel's X25-M SATA solid-state drive is now widely available at retail. An 80GB X25-M is priced at just more than $500 at most retailers. Reviews of the X25-M's performance have been very positive.
Unfortunately, the only way to get the newest SSDs in some cases is by ordering a laptop. Samsung is now offering its latest-and-greatest 128GB SATA drives in ultraportable laptops such as the MacBook Air and the Dell Latitude E4200 and E4300.
The Latitude E4300 can be configured with a 128GB SSD for $460 more than the standard 160GB 5400RPM hard disk drive.